May 5

Coping with the Mental Side of Your Chronic Condition

When you are living with a chronic condition, it is really easy to get depressed and despondent. You are in pain a lot of the tie; you’re constantly worried about making your symptoms worse and you simply cannot relax and enjoy life the way you should.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way – not most of the time anyway. There are so many techniques you can use to better manage your chronic condition and feel less stressed depressed and despondent less often. In fact, they can help you to really enjoy life to the full!

Learn about it

One of the best things you can do is to learn about your chronic condition. Why? Because knowledge is power, and the more you understand your illness and how it affects you, the more power you will feel like you have over your own destiny and the more things you will be able to do to mitigate against some of the effects.

So, whether you talk to a doctor about your hereditary angioedema or hit up the library and read everything you can about chronic fatigue, take the power back and find out everything there is to know about your condition today.

Talk to your peers

Something else that can really help when you are struggling mentally due to your chronic condition, is to get in touch with other people who know exactly how you feel. There are so many good peer support groups both on and offline that it should not be too difficult to find one for your condition.

Being part of a group that gets you can make you feel much less alone, and of course, it can also be a good source of tips and tricks to help you manage your condition more effectively, which is never a bad thing, too.

Meditate

Many people who are suffering from chronic conditions do not like the suggestion that their illness is in any way mental. That is not what we are saying here. Chronic conditions are very real and they more often than not do have a physical cause, however, it is still true to say that various mental techniques can help chronic illness sufferers to manage their symptoms better.

For example, meditation has been shown to help individuals experiencing chronic pain to take back control and reduce the intensity of that pain. This is because, when you meditate, you get in tune with your body; you begin to understand it more and you learn how to not focus on it so intently. The less you focus on it, the less power it has over you.

This might all sound a bit strange, but it really can work very well.

Work with your doctor

Some people who have a chronic illness will let their doctor do all of the work that comes with managing it. Obviously, you do need your doctor to diagnose your illness and prescribe your medication, as well as for advice, but if you want to cope with your chronic condition, it is often a good idea to work with your doctor and take more responsibility for your own health.

Doing so has the mental benefit of giving you something to focus on and making you feel like you are doing something positive, which can really help to boost your mood and reduce a lot of stress and anxiety around your condition, and of course, when you make an effort to exercise, eat healthily and track your symptoms, you learn more about your body, while slop often improving your physical symptoms too.

Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Another thing you can try on the mental health side of chronic condition management is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a form of therapy that forces you to look at your negative thoughts about your condition, confront them and analyze them to see how true they are.

More often than not, we hurt ourselves by catastrophizing; by thinking the worst about our conditions and how they affect our lives, when actually, it is not always so bad, and we often do have lots of good days too.

CBT helps us to recognize the reality of the situation, while also giving us the tools we need to better cope with the things in our lives that are bad.

Find a hobby

When you have a chronic condition, it can be tempting to shut yourself away and avoid various people and activities. This is generally a really bad idea because people need human interaction to keep them sane and offer them support, and they need meaningful activities to make life worthwhile.

Of course, having a hobby that you love and can get fully absorbed in is a great way to stop thinking about your chronic condition for a little while, so that you can enjoy yourself more and stop stressing out quite so often.

Not only that, but practicing a hobby will show you just what you are capable of, illness or no illness, so if you are lacking in self-esteem enrolling in an art class or taking up fishing could be just the thing you need.

See a Therapist

If you are really struggling to come to terms with your chronic condition and its implications on your life, then it is pretty sensible to start seeing a therapist who specializes in chronic illness ns its management. 

Sometimes, having a neutral party you can offload on and get suggestions from is all it takes to lift your mood and make you feel more positive about life again.

Just remember that it can take time to find the right therapist, so don’t give up if the first one is not a good fit for you – keep looking, and eventually, you will find the right person to help you through.

As you can see, there are lots of fairly simple things you can do to help you deal better with your chronic condition so that you can stop worrying and start enjoying life more!


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